Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Course to Teach Animal Rights Law; a Sign of the Changing Times?

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Course to Teach Animal Rights Law; a Sign of the Changing Times?

Article excerpt

New course to teach animal rights law

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OTTAWA - A new course being taught this fall at the University of Ottawa is an indication that attitudes toward animal rights are changing, say activists, a trend that one Liberal MP hopes will pave the way for his private member`s bill in Parliament.

The course, called Animals and the Law, will be offered to students at the university's francophone faculty of civil law and will examine the most current legislation on animal rights, such as a recent Quebec bill that granted animals the status of sentient beings.

While many older Canadians are skeptical about furthering the rights of animals under the law, younger people have embraced a trend towards greater protections of both animals and the environment, says graduate student and course co-teacher Justine Perron.

"It's part of the new generation's way of thinking," said Perron.

"We need to know the next generation can live here and it's not only about us," she said.

Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith is hoping that attitudinal change translates into support of his bill, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act.

The proposed law aims to ban the import of dog and cat fur as well as the practice of shark-finning and the use of live animals in target shooting.

It also contains increased fines for illegal dog-fighting.

"It's the evolution of ideas," said Erskine-Smith.

"I think there will continue to be a greater push for protection for animals and recognition that animals should be treated in a humane way."

Bill C-246 is expected to come up for a second reading vote in the House of Commons late next month, but like most private member`s bills, it faces an uphill battle.

Private member`s bills rarely become law and Erskine-Smith's is just the latest in a string of legislation designed to toughen protections against animal abuse.

It has already faced sharp criticism from hunting and fishing organizations concerned about how the provisions would affect their industries. …

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